Hit the open road with the Camaro on the way home yesterday. Actually, it wasn’t all that open considering the commute traffic, but there were a few stretches on 280 where I let all the pretty horses run a little. I was able to hit 90 for a short stint, somewhat balancing out the 30 mph spots (what a shame).
She did quite well at high speeds: mostly smooth sailing, yet strong and loud in the right ways at the right times. For most of 280, I cruised between 70 and 80. Quite impressive doing 75 mph in 4th gear at 3,750 RPM…felt like I was standing still, to be honest — even more so at lower RPMs in 5th or 6th. My buddy Jim was wondering how well she would accelerate at highway speeds. She goes from 70 to 90 effortlessly and almost instantaneously in 4th. I wonder how she’d do in 3rd? Maybe next time…
Speaking of gears, this car has steering wheel-mounted paddles (Chevy calls it TAPshift and they’re actually just buttons on the backside of the spokes). First time I’ve ever driven a car with the paddle shifters. The shifting was solid and smart enough not to take you down unnecessarily to 1st or 2nd. I was a bit tentative early on using it on the streets, as the car would lurch forward in 1st or 2nd under my unfamiliar foot, but I got the hang of it fairly quickly. I don’t think the placement of the paddles is optimal: essentially at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. It’d be better at 10 and 2, but I assume they needed to put them where the spokes are.
The handling was quite good, not at all sluggish for such a long and wide car. I strayed over the line once or twice, but that was just because I was getting use to driving a bigger car…didn’t have anything to do with the steering performance. Still didn’t get a chance to corner at high speeds, but moving around the highway was just fine.
The interior layout works well. Audio controls, AC controls, etc. are pretty easy to use and in good places. I do hate cars that don’t have digital temperature settings; having to set one knob for fan speed and another knob for relative (read: unmarked analog) temperature is a pain. I mentioned in my post from yesterday that the digital speed readout was interesting, considering there’s an analog speedometer as well. As it turns out, it comes in pretty handy, since I can’t really see the important speed ranges on the analog speedometer due to being a shorty. Unfortunately, when I switched to using the TAPshift, the digital speed readout went away and I was not able to bring it back. WTF? I guess I’ll have to read the manual.
I had read an Edmunds review describing the Camaro’s “gun-slit-like windshield and windows” as hindrances to good vision. The rear window is a tad small, but sufficient. My bigger issue was the limited view over my left shoulder due to the thick pillar and smallish window behind the door window. One last nitpick: the controller for the side rear-view mirrors is annoying because there’s no lock for it. You either leave it on “left” or “right” so if you happen to hit the disk with your hand, you change the angle of one of the mirrors.
All-in-all, I’d say the Camaro is a pretty damn good car so far. I believe the sticker on this car was $35K. Pretty good for a well-handling, comfortable ride with a beast under the hood. More thoughts on general value and target audience (and, I hope, extreme road exploits) later.
Oh, and Piper approves.